VOORHEES, N.J. -- Kevin Hayes said he is excited to be with the Philadelphia Flyers and doesn't have any hard feelings toward the New York Rangers, but he is looking forward to showing his former team what it will be missing.
"They chose to get rid of me and [forward Jimmy] Vesey, that's their decision," the forward said prior to scoring in the Flyers' 4-1 preseason win against the Rangers at Wells Fargo Center on Saturday. "I'm sure it'll come back to them. We'll find out."
Vesey was traded to the Buffalo Sabres on July 1; Hayes played five seasons with New York before being traded to the Winnipeg Jets on Feb. 25. The Flyers acquired him in a trade with the Jets on June 3 and signed him to a seven-year contract June 19, two weeks before he could have become an unrestricted free agent.
"Looking back a year ago from today I was asking for things from New York that they said no to and we went our separate ways in February," Hayes said. "I'm ecstatic with where I'm at right now and playing with this group of guys and the team that we have here."
Video: NYR@PHI: Hayes tips home point shot late in 1st
The Rangers made several big additions during the offseason, among them forward Artemi Panarin, who agreed to a seven-year contract July 1, and defenseman Jacob Trouba, acquired in a trade with the Jets on June 17.
"I don't know if they're good steps or bad steps," he said. "That's what [the media] gets to decide. But they're steps, I guess. I have no hard feelings toward them. I loved my time there. I'm happy with where I'm at right now."
Hayes said Philadelphia provided him long-term security, which the Rangers did not.
"In New York my longest contract was two years," he said. "The last three years (I) was trade bait basically every year."
Hayes said he was relishing the chance to play against defenseman Brady Skjei; the two and Vesey shared an apartment in New York.
"We were tight," Hayes said. "Those are two of my best friends. I grabbed dinner with Brady the other night, talk to Jimmy basically every day."
Hayes and his new teammates are building toward the Flyers' season opener against the Chicago Blackhawks in the NHL Global Series at O2 Arena in Prague on Oct. 4.
"I feel like this year is the best shape and best mentality I've ever been in in my career," he said. "I don't know if it has to do with the change or the excitement that I have to be here in Philly, but I'm excited to get this going."
Photo courtesy: Len Redkoles/Philadelphia Flyers